Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Carolyn Renee Dupont


Control and order have been among the defining traits of all societies. Exuding those traits despite a collapsing relevance within their rapidly changing society was modus operandi of most middle-class white southern men at the confluence of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By understanding proposed substantiation for their place in the established social hierarchy, we gain insight into why they fought so adamantly to protect it. Furthermore, expanded understanding aids in formulating explanations for why they felt so entitled to occupy the peak of the sociocultural dominance hierarchy. This analysis is not simply a matter of a skin color. Perceived physical racial differences made up a single variable in the complex equation that culminated in a lynching event. Despite popular assumptions, lynching events were not always random acts of violence committed by lawless bands of racist, drunken, and ignorant, mobs. Lynching events were the reactions of a middle-class white male population who faced existential fear due to their perceived diminishing status in a sociocultural dominance hierarchy.

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